Doomsday clock 2024 - live: Scientists to reveal how close we are to the end of the world

Scientists and experts are about to reveal just how close we are to the end of the world.

The Doomsday Clock will be updated today as a symbol of the threat from war, nuclear weapons and the climate crisis, as well as more new concerns such as artificial intelligence.

The time currently stands at 90 seconds away from midnight. That is the closest it has ever been to striking midnight, which symbolises the end of the world.

It reached that time last year, when it was moved forward by 10 seconds. That was done in recognition of the Russia-Ukraine war as well as the expansion of nuclear weaponry in China and North Korea.

The new update will come at 3pm UK time or 10am local time in Washington, DC, where it will be updated by scientists, experts and public figures including Bill Nye.

Announcement appears to be delayed

15:03 , Andrew Griffin

We’re two minutes after the event was supposed to begin, and it has not yet started. (You would have thought an organisation known largely for its clocks would start on time...)

Doomsday clock announcement imminent

15:01 , Andrew Griffin

The announcement of the new time on the Doomsday Clock is imminent. (It’s scheduled to start now.)

As a reminder, you can watch live here.

What happens when the Doomsday Clock time is announced?

14:45 , Andrew Griffin

Historically, the event in Washington, DC follows a fairly reliable schedule: some of the panel chosen to decide the time will give a little talk in advance of the unveiling, but it is usually done quite soon, with the Bulletin then giving its reasons for moving the clock (or not).

All of that will happen at 10am local eastern time, or 3pm UK. You can find directions for following it below.

Where did the Doomsday Clock come from?

14:41 , Andrew Griffin

This, from the Press Association, is a brief rundown of how the Doomsday Clock came about – and what it really means:

The countdown was established in 1947 by experts from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists who were working on the Manhattan Project to design and build the first atomic bomb.

It was created to provide a simple way of demonstrating the danger to the Earth and humanity posed by nuclear war.

The clock first started ticking at seven minutes to midnight - and has moved forwards and backwards over the years as the threats to the world changed.

In 2020, it was set at 100 seconds to midnight, and remained unchanged for the next three years.

Although originally intended to warn of the threat of nuclear armageddon, the Doomsday Clock has evolved to take into account the likelihood of other emerging threats such as climate change and advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

Bulletin calls on public to help address the threat

14:32 , Andrew Griffin

It’s a good question: it’s all very well worrying about how close we are to midnight, but is there anything that we normal people can do to stop us getting any nearer? It’s one the Bulletin that runs the clock is clearly fed up of being asked – because this month’s issue of the magazine is focused on giving people some guidance on what they can do to “turn back the clock”.

You can read it here.

Doomsday Clock has its own playlist

12:58 , Andrew Griffin

The Bulletin, which runs the clock, has made a playlist of songs that mention it or take inspiration from it. There’s 13 songs – which is far from complete, and they ask people to send any extra songs to their Instagram.

You can find the playlist on Spotify here.

How to watch the Doomsday Clock announcement live

12:23 , Andrew Griffin

The Bulletin will be sharing its announcement live. You can sign up to watch it on its YouTube channel here – which will also let you receive a reminder when the coverage begins.

But we’ll also be covering all the events as they happen here on The Independent, when they start at 10am local eastern time or 3pm in the UK.

Will the clock move forward again?

10:33 , Andrew Griffin

The Ukraine-Russia war continues. We have seen war in Gaza, which threatens to spread elsewhere in the Middle East. Away from outright conflict, dangers such as artificial intelligence and the climate crisis continue.

There is plenty of reason to think that the clock will stay at least where it is now, at 100 seconds, if not progress forward. But of course we won’t know until 3pm UK time, when the new time is revealed.

(One difficulty is that the clock is, in a way, running out of time. Until 2017, the clock only used whole minutes; that year, it changed to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. In 2020, it switched to seconds: then it was 100 seconds, and last year it became 90 seconds.)

What time is it now?

10:29 , Andrew Griffin

We’re at 90 seconds to midnight – the closest to catastrophe it has ever been. Scientists have said it represents a “time of unprecedented danger”.

When it was changed, by 10 seconds last year, the Bulletin said it was “largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine”. While it pointed to other concerns, it was mostly a result of the danger of escalation and the use of nuclear weapons.

What is the Doomsday Clock?

10:24 , Andrew Griffin

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which organises the clock, describes it as “many things all at once: It’s a metaphor, it’s a logo, it’s a brand, and it’s one of the most recognizable symbols in the past 100 years”.

In short, though, it is a symbol of how much danger we’re in, as explained here.

Hello and welcome...

09:17 , Andrew Griffin

... to The Independent’s live coverage of the latest update to the Doomsday Clock.